November 17, 2020
Parents, Guardians, Patrons, and Students,
On August 26 I put out a letter entitled, “We need your help”. Positive cases are not only rising in Bourbon County, but across the entire state of Kansas and throughout the Midwest. Today, we need your help more than ever.
As I stated in August, this may sound a little blunt, but you will probably hear this from me several other times this school year. “Don’t mess this up for everyone!” Our ultimate goal was to have 100% of our students in our classrooms for 100% of our scheduled school days this year. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, but it is not too late to take initiative to protect the remaining school year.
Extra steps we are currently taking at USD 235 include:
- Temperature checks before allowing staff/students to enter the building.
- Wiping down desks between classes at the JH/HS and several times per day at WBE.
- Encouraging students to wash their hands multiple times per day and having students using hand sanitizer when entering classes and the lunch room.
- Cleaning and spraying buses and school vehicles between trips. (Done twice per day)
- Installing Ion Wave Air purifiers in the HVAC systems at both the JH/HS and WBE.
- Deep cleaning all hallways, bathrooms, and classrooms with hospital-grade sanitizer every evening.
- Running the air system 24 hours per day bringing in fresh air and pulling out inside air.
We were not able to meet our goal of meeting for 100% of our scheduled days as we are currently in a Remote Learning situation for our Junior High/High School due to roughly 50% of our student body being required to quarantine. This was a very difficult decision to make and was not made lightly. We are aware of the impact this has on some families as connectivity issues with internet vary depending on where you live.
We have had a total of 6 students test positive for COVID-19 as well as 7 staff members throughout our district since we have started back to school. All of the students and 2 of the staff members have tested positive in the past 7 days. These numbers do not include family members of students that have tested positive and required siblings and to quarantine as well.
Regardless of your beliefs surrounding the COVID-19 – Coronavirus Pandemic, it is important to understand that a single positive case amongst our student body or staff has the potential to impact the model of instruction that is used. A transition to either Hybrid or Remote Learning could ensue. This potential shutdown could last days, weeks, and even months depending on the severity, level of spread, and number infected. We don’t enjoy having to implement many of the precautions and safety measures we are implementing, but we need to do all we can to keep our classrooms open. I believe we can all agree that it is better for everyone if our students are participating through in-person learning in our buildings. All other options are likely to cause a hardship for those involved.
With all of this in mind, we ask your help in the following:
- We highly recommend you wear a mask anytime you are in our school buildings for any reason or any amount of time. (We don’t like them either)
- Limit public gatherings where you can’t social distance. If you choose to go out, we highly recommend you wear a mask.
- If you or your child are awaiting testing results, stay quarantined, do not enter the school.
- If your child has a fever, keep them home. Children must be fever free for 72 hours before returning to school. We understand this is a burden on you, but if you send your child to school before that time is up, the potential for a building shut-down for everyone is greater.
- If your student has two or more of the following symptoms, please keep them home: a) fever or chills; b) shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; c) fatigue; d) cough; e) muscle or body aches; f) headache; g) new loss of taste or smell; h) sore throat; i) congestion or runny nose; j) nausea or vomiting; and k) diarrhea.
- If you travel to any location that is designated a hotspot by the CDC, KDHE, or local health officials, please quarantine for the amount of time designated by those organizations.
- If you are in contact during the incubation period (2 days before first symptoms occurring and extending 10 days past 1st symptoms) with an individual that has tested positive, please contact local health care providers for guidance on quarantining.
- Help your children make healthy decisions by keeping them away from large gatherings outside of school, help them follow good hygiene practices, and make sure they get plenty of sleep.
- If requested, please submit to contact tracing by local health officials. Proper contact tracing can help us get back in our classrooms faster if we are forced to close our doors.
- Encouraging people to not test or submit to contract tracing causes more people to quarantine, not less.
Bret Howard, Superintendent-USD 235 Uniontown